The Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways returns to the European Tour International schedule for the third consecutive year. Here are five things you need to know about the tournament on the island paradise.
Location, location, location
The European Tour’s Race to Dubai touches down at many stunning venues throughout the season, and the Championship Course at Natadola Bay is certainly one of the most scenic. With a dramatic landscape moving from rolling pastures to pristine beachfront, and with the sparkling backdrop of the Pacific Ocean on 15 of the 18 holes, it’s an idyllic golfing location.
Fijian golfing legend Vijay Singh designed the Championship Course at Natadola Bay in 2009. The three-time Major Champion then oversaw major renovations ahead of the 2017 event, to include wider fairways, flatter greens and a finessed layout. In total, 12 of the 18 holes had some form of alteration and the front nine was rerouted - what were previously holes 6 to 9 are now holes 1 to 4, while the former holes 1 to 5 are now holes 5 to 9.
Singh is joined in the field this year by former World Number One and four-time Major Champion Ernie Els, as the South African Presidents Cup Captain makes his debut in the event. Former Masters Tournament winners Angel Cabrera of Argentina and Canada’s Mike Weir have also teed it up on the island paradise in previous years.
America’s Brandt Snedeker secured his maiden European Tour title at Natadola Bay in 2016, the first year the even was included on the tour’s International Schedule. Snedeker fired a closing 68 to finish on 16 under par and win by nine shots for the biggest winning margin of the season - beating Charl Schwartzel's eight-shot victory at that year’s Tshwane Open. Jason Norris also claimed his first European Tour title at the event last season. The Australian wrapped up the win in some style as a final-round 67 earned him a four-stroke victory over his fellow countrymen David McKenzie and James Marchesani, as well as Thailand's Jazz Janewattananond.
Pacific Ocean partners
This is the second consecutive year that the tournament has been tri-sanctioned by the European Tour, the Asian Tour and the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia. The Fiji International was first played in 2014 and was included on the European Tour International Schedule in 2016, as Fiji became the 42nd different country to host a European Tour event.